Sunday, August 21, 2016

Snow White (Part 2)

Okay, it's time to continue talking about "Snow White."

But first, I have to say something that is off topic. Remember a few posts ago when I said I couldn't find a picture of the book I found at Walmart? Well, I found a picture of the cover yesterday.

That's the book that was at Walmart.

(Ironically, I actually had to look up the name of the guy who wrote the text of Great Fairy Tales Treasure Chest, Peter Holeinone, to find an image of this book. I find that strange, because the text from the orange book is not the same as the text from GFTTC, despite having the same illustrations (which are not drawn by Peter Holeinone). I know for a FACT that the text in the following link was the text from GFTTC; That was NOT the text that was in the orange book. Did Peter Holeinone write two different versions, or is the information about the book false? I'll have to buy the book and see if my memory is failing me.)

Anyway, back to "Snow White."

When we last left her, she was sleeping in a bed in the house of the seven dwarfs. The dwarfs are waiting for her to wake up the next morning. She wakes up, and tells them why she has come to their house, and they agree to let her stay if she'll do the chores for them. They also warn her not to let anybody in while their away, as they might be the queen in disguise.

Of course, the queen finds out that Snow White is alive, because that mirror of hers rats her out. So the queen dresses up as an old woman and visits Snow while the dwarfs are away. She pretends to sell her some bodice laces, and ties them so tight that Snow passes out. She runs back home, but the dwarfs arrive in time to save Snow.

The mirror rats Snow out again, and this time the queen resorts to witchcraft to kill Snow. She disguises as a different old woman, and pretends to sell combs to her. She uses a (magically) poisoned comb to comb Snow's hair, causing her to die. But the dwarfs arrive again and remove the comb, ending the spell, causing Snow to revive.

But Snow is ratted out by the mirror again, and the queen pays her another visit. This time, she tricks Snow into eating a (magically) poisoned apple, and she dies. The queen rushes home,, and this time the mirror says she is the fairest in the land.

(Of course, the queen shouldn't have been too quick to talk to her mirror, because the dwarfs hadn't even come home yet at that time. The mirror DID say Snow was alive the other two times, but that was AFTER the dwarfs helped her. This time, the queen gets her answer before the dwarfs arrive home, so of course Snow is going to be dead at that point. You COULD argue that the queen asks the mirror more than once during those times, but the story implies that the queen is satisfied with the mirror's answer BEFORE the dwarfs have come home and tried to do anything, which is kind of ridiculous if you ask me. Am I the only person who noticed this?)

The dwarfs come home, and they can't break the spell because they can't remove the apple that Snow ate (I think the implication is that they don't even know about the apple). They remove her clothes and wash her, but nothing helps. They weep, and lay her in a coffin, where she lays for many days without her beauty fading.

An interesting part of the story here says, "she remained as red as blood, as white as snow, and her hair remained as black as ebony." This is interesting, because this is the only time that we're told what parts of her are which colors, and even then it's only the ebony black part. We're just used to the idea of her lips and skin being the red and white parts of her, but since the story doesn't tell us, we can't know for sure (though I can't think of how else it would make since). And in the first edition, her EYES are ebony black instead of her hair. I can't think of a reason the Grimms changed it (were they tired of the common blonde female heroine or something?), but it is an interesting change nonetheless.

A prince comes by and sees Snow in the coffin. He wants her because she is so beautiful (I read an informational book once that said that Snow was probably naked in the coffin, because the story never said that the dwarfs put her clothes back on after washing her. I'm not sure if that's what the Brothers Grimm wanted to imply, but if that's the case, than the prince is more of a creep than I originally thought). He asks for the coffin, and the dwarfs give it to him. As the walk, one of them trips and drops the coffin, and the jolt knocks the piece of apple out of her mouth, breaking the spell. The prince asks Snow to marry him, and she agrees to ( I sure hope she was at the dwarfs for quite a few years before the prince found her, because she was only seven at the beginning of the story).

(In the first edition, the prince has the dead Snow in his possession for quite some time, and one of his men gets frustrated with his obsession for her and slaps her on the back of the head, making the apple fly out. I guess the Grimms thought this part was weird or something.)

They invite the evil queen to the wedding, and of course the queen asks her mirror who is most beautiful again. The mirror says that the new bride is, and the queen goes there and finds that it's Snow. But this time, it's Snow who gets her revenge on the queen (or maybe the prince was mad at the queen or something). The queen is forced to dance in red-hot iron shoes until she dies. Yeah. Weird.

"Snow White" is basically a story about jealousy. The queen and Snow White are the two central characters, with Snow being the innocent girl who can't help what she looks like, and the queen being the jealous mother/stepmother, who won't let anybody (not even her own daughter) stand in the way of her beauty.

The Disney version includes the same thing, but it's kind of pushed to one side once the dwarfs come along. The dwarfs in the Disney version are funny people who sing and dance in a style that's stuck with Disney films ever since. The queen also only uses the apple in this version, and the other two weapons are cut out, but this is forgivable, because it would have been repetitive. Also, the prince kisses Snow to break the spell, rather than the apple coming out of her mouth. And while removing the apple from her made more since from the story's logic (remove the comb to break the spell, remove the apple to break the spell), this was an exceptable change, as the film was for kids.

Oh yeah, and we also get Snow singing to animals while they help her clean. While not necessarily a bad change, this also got carried over to other female characters in Disney films, and became rather cliche. Oh well.

And, thanks to the Disney film, many people now know the story as "Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs." While accurate for the Disney film, the Grimm story does better as just "Snow White," since the dwarfs are hardly in it.

Anyway, not a bad story. Still a pretty well known one, but it's one of my favorites.

1 comment:

  1. I wouldn't over-interpret that it isn't mentioned that the dwarfs don't redress her. Perhaps that was the subtext for some of the more raunchy ersions of the tale, but I don't think it was the Grimm's intention, who were quite careful not to hurt he sensibilities of the middle and upper class fromthe 2nd edition on.

    As for the black hair: This is just a pet theory, so don't quote me on that (and it might come off as hypocritical after my warning against over-interpretations), but it might be a reference to Dorothea Wild, Wilhelm Grimm's girlfriend and later wife, who in fact had dark hair. He has thrown in subtle references to her in other tales, most notably in Our Lady's child.